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Nigeria’s future depends on investment in youths, says Adesina

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Akinwunmi adesina. Photo; TWITTER/AKINADESINA

The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has charged the country to invest in the younger generation, insisting that “for Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth of Nigeria must be all they can be”.

Adesina said this during a lecture on ‘Building a New Nigeria: Imperatives for Shared Prosperity at the America University of Nigeria’ at the American University of Nigeria convocation recently.

“The future of Nigeria depends on what it does today with its dynamic youth population. This demographic advantage must be turned into a first-rate and well-trained workforce, for Nigeria, for the region and the world,” he said.

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The ex-Nigeria’s agriculture minister said the country was at a crossroads with youth unemployment of 38.5 per cent, absence of skills and economic opportunities.

“We should prioritise investments in the youth: in upskilling them for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past by moving away from so-called youth empowerment to youth investment; to opening up the social and political space to the youth to air their views and become a positive force for national development and for ensuring that that we create youth-based wealth,” he advised.

He charged the older generation to give way to way to younger people and implement the needed economic and financial changes to transform the country and inspire new leadership across board.

Adesina called for better management of the country’s diversity. According to him, “diversity becomes divergence” when it is mismanaged but a source of collective strength when it is properly managed for the collective good. “Our diversity is not our problem. Diversity is our strength,” he noted, adding that other multi-national countries like Singapore have been able to turn their heterogeneity to positive development.

He continued: “Singapore is a very diverse, multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-religious society, made up of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasians. Singapore is a nation of diverse people and national origins. Yet, this nation was able to forge a unified identity that has powered its extraordinary economic progress and development.

At its independence in 1965, Singapore’s per capita income was just $517 compared to $1,400 for Nigeria at its independence in 1960. Today, the story is different. The per capita income of Singapore is now $60,000. Today, the per capita income for Nigeria is $2,250. This highly diverse nation now ranks 4th in the world in terms of GDP per capita, with massive wealth and prosperity for its people. The evidence is clear. Singapore managed its diversity to create wealth – shared wealth.

“By better managing its diversity, Singapore has been able to forge an incredible economic growth, which benefits all in the country. They have 100% access to electricity and 98 per cent access to water and sanitation. Their schools rank among the best in the world. Today, Singapore is an AAA-rated economy by the global credit rating agencies. But Singapore did not have it easy either.”

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AFDBAkinwumi Adesina
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